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Veiling Statues and Passiontide

By Father Woods

The Fifth Week of Lent marks a turning point in this holy season. The first four weeks have focused on personal conversion through the disciplines of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. As the Preface of the Mass reminds us, “You ask us to express our thanks by self-denial. We are to master our sinfulness and conquer our pride. We are to show to those in need your goodness to ourselves.” Now our focus is shifted from ourselves to the Person of Christ Crucified. The prayers, readings, and hymns of the Fifth Week of Lent and Holy Week all express the Church’s devotion to the Passion and Death of the Lord Jesus. Now our conversion is rooted in the example of Christ.

In the Liturgy before the Second Vatican Council, these last two weeks of Lent formed a “mini­ season” known as Passiontide. While we do not use this name anymore, the reality of its focus is the same. For many people the movement into Passiontide was marked with a dramatic visual symbol: the veiling of statues. Statues are traditionally veiled or removed from the Church to take our attention off the saints and on to the Crucifixion. There is a certain seriousness about these days when we should realize what great lengths God went to in order to save us from our sins. Jesus, Who was completely sinless, offered up His life so we would not die in our sinfulness.

Since our western society is often so self-absorbed and mistakenly thinks we can, through use of our human ingenuity solve all our problems, there can be a certain indifference to the Crucifixion. Perhaps we’ve been so surrounded by crucifixes for so long we’ve become immune to the tragedy and reality of Good Friday. The events of Christ’s Passion should fill us with gratitude and jumpstart our spiritual lives. Our status as adopted sons and daughters of God is completely dependent on the generosity of Jesus’ sacrifice. Perhaps we’ve forgotten that had Jesus not died and risen, human beings could never go to Heaven when we die.

What other distractions should we “veil” during these next final two weeks of Lent? What distracts us from our prayer, spiritual reading, or charity? What have we spent too much time looking at as a substitute for looking at God? Lent, especially these final two weeks, is a great gift to the Church. Like most things, however, we only get out of it what we put into it. If we put ourselves in a position where we are disposed to receive the grace God desires to give us, we can grow spiritually. The veils over the statues will be removed on Holy Saturday. Perhaps when we remove the veils from our own lives at Easter, we will discover Jesus Who died and rose to save us.


We adore You, O Christ and we praise You

Because by Your holy Cross, You have redeemed the